Greece upset by ‘Macedonia’

Foreign Minister George Papandreou has written to US Secretary of State Colin Powell to express concern at the signing of a deal by Washington and Skopje exempting American troops and other personnel from persecution before the International Criminal Court. The deal refers to Greece’s northern neighbor as «Macedonia,» something which raised protests here because UN mediation is continuing in an effort to reach a compromise. Athens says its neighbor’s use of the name Macedonia implies claims on the Greek province of that name. Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski, whose country is recognized by the United Nations as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, yesterday hailed the deal. «The signing of the agreement with the United States, with the name Macedonia, constitutes a very significant development, which comes close to reaching the target we have set,» he said, with regard to international recognition of his country as the «Republic of Macedonia.» «The signing of a bilateral deal does not constitute recognition of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by the constitutional name that it has established,» Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Panayiotis Beglitis said. «There is an issue here. We have acted very dynamically at all levels. Mr Papandreou, on his part, has written a letter on this to his American counterpart, Mr Powell,» he said. Opposition New Democracy party spokesman Theodoris Roussopoulos claimed «the inactivity of the government for such a long time has created such conditions which allow the government in Skopje to promote internationally its well-known positions on the name issue.» FYROM’s Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski said the country’s Parliament is expected to approve exempting Americans from the international court. FYROM will get $10 million in military aid.

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